BURGER fans in Russia rejoiced today as McDonald's branches reopened under a new name weeks after the fast-food giant pulled out of the country.
Swarms of people queued down streets for their fries fix after the US chain shut all its restaurants over Putin's bloody war in Ukraine.
The chain has been rebranded as Vkusno i Tochka, which means "Tasty full stop" – and is also a pointed jibe as Russia has been pounding Ukraine with the OTR-21 Tochka-U ballistic missile.
McDonald's, which first opened in Russia 30 years ago as the Soviet Union crumbled, had 847 stores in the country until the US giant decided to pull the plug and sell off its branches last month.
But despite the cloak of a new name and knock-off copycat dishes such as the "Grandee" burger, fast food lovers have said the food tastes the same and venues are kitted out exactly the same.
The branches were bought up by Putin's pal Alexander Govor, who was today pictured grinning as he cut a ribbon at a restaurant in central Moscow.
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General manager Alexander Merkulov told Reuters the equipment and burger ingredients are identical, but some McDonald's favourites have been left off the menu.
Scores of people queued outside what was formerly McDonald's flagship restaurant in Pushkin Square, central Moscow.
The outlet sported a new logo – a stylised burger with two fries in the shape of an M – plus a slogan reading: "The name changes, love stays".
McDonald's iconic Golden Arches have been stripped from the 15 sites being reopened in Moscow and St Petersburg.
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Hungry customer Sergei, 15, said: "The taste has stayed the same.
"The cola is different, but there really is no change to the burger."
While some key meals can't be bought, fast food fans can grab a double cheeseburger for 129 roubles (£1.80) and a fish burger for 169 roubles (£2.40).
The logo has been replaced by a fresh one made up of two fries and a "red dot" hamburger patty against a grey background.
Oleg Paroyev, the director-general of the new group, said: "The new name is Vkusno i Tochka.
"Our goal is that our guests do not notice a difference either in quality or ambiance."
The relaunch has begun on Russia Day, a patriotic holiday celebrating the country's independence, at the same flagship location in Moscow's Pushkin Square where McDonald's first opened in Russia in January 1990.
He told a press conference in Moscow a further 50 restaurants are expected to open across Russia tomorrow, with around 200 ready for business by the end of June.
Russian businessman Alexander Govor had been a franchisee with a number of restaurants in Siberia.
He said he stepped in to save thousands of jobs across the country after McDonald's announced in May it would sell its Russian portfolio of almost 850 restaurants.
It is not known how much he paid for the chain.
McDonald's opened its first branch in Moscow's Pushkin Square in 1990, when 30,000 people queued up to have their first Big Mac.
Because of low Russian wages, it was a luxury in the country at the time.
But the US giant ditched its branches in Russia last month as Putin's war raged on – leaving Ukraine's landscape littered with debris amid severe levels of bloodshed.
The company said: "The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald's to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable."
When McDonald's announced it was closing its Russian restaurants in March, one devastated fan stocked up his fridge with 50 burgers.
Others tried to make some money by selling McDonald's food on auction sites.
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One advert for a "still warm" full meal consisting of a double Big Mac, a double royal, two large portions of chips, 18 McNuggets, and mozzarella dippers was on sale for £255.
Another distraught fan chained himself to a McDonald's branch in protest in a bid to stop it from closing down.
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